Unizin Institutions Share Tools, Best Practices for Switching LMSs

“We’re tired,” Annette Beck, Director of Enterprise Instructional Technology and Evaluation & Exam Service, says with a laugh. She is describing her team’s whirlwind year at the University of Iowa. In just two semesters, they have transitioned all academic courses at Iowa from D2L to Canvas, an impressive feat in the higher education realm.

“I think it was the fastest anyone has ever migrated in the history of the world,” she said jokingly about the quick and successful migration.

The University of Iowa wasn’t alone for this journey. About a year ago, Beck and David Long connected with staff at fellow Unizin institutions, The Ohio State University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and eventually non-Unizin institution, the University of Oklahoma.

“The group shared adoption strategies as well as potential pitfalls and how to address them.” said David Long, LMS (ICON) Technical & Support Team Lead at the University of Iowa. “It was really helpful to leverage our collective experience. Each university added value to the conversation, and by sharing things like communication plans and training materials, we were better able to successfully navigate this change at Iowa.”

Over the next 12 months, the three schools exchanged ideas, research, and maybe most importantly – tools to help the migration go smoothly. Six months into the process the University of Oklahoma joined the group as well.

“We were lucky to collaborate with Iowa and Ohio State,” said Andy Goldstein, Assistant Director of Learning Solutions at University of Wisconsin-Madison. “Iowa provided us with a tool to migrate course content from D2L to Canvas. It’s been very helpful giving us a jumpstart and shaved some time off the process.”

The migration tool is being used in different ways by the universities, but a way to automate the course migration process from D2L to Canvas is seen as an important process to save time and resources.

As for the University of Iowa, the stress of migration is winding down, but the stress of onboarding faculty who might have missed the memo has just begun. Still, Beck is optimistic about the future.

“Having the Canvas adoption done so quickly is going to allow us to move into the Unizin tools much faster,” said Beck. “We’re also going to start collaborating on building an LMS archive system to store old courses.”

Beck and Long hope that Unizin will adopt the code for the migration tool and take over the paperwork and contracts in the near future. They say they want the tool to continue to help simplify the migration process for Unizin institutions.

“We’re excited to be in a position to help many institutions benefit from Iowa’s vision and work,” said Amin Qazi, Unizin CEO. “Migrating courses from other LMSs is a challenge we know others will face in the near future. Unizin is passionate about scaling and supporting innovations that come from our Member institutions.”

These conversations and collaborations are the cornerstone of Unizin and the ideas practices and tools shared are one of the great values of membership.